Updated on 09/16/2011 7:47AM

Hallowed Dreams ready, Pan Zareta still short

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NEW ORLEANS - Lloyd Romero would provide no answer Wednesday to the burning question of who will ride Hallowed Dreams Saturday in the $75,000 Pan Zareta Handicap, but he did have a question of his own.

"Is the race going to go?" Romero wanted to know.

Good question. With only seven nominations, the Pan Zareta was in trouble from the start, and as of Wednesday there were only four probable starters, with little hope of getting a fifth.

Besides *, the queen of Louisiana-breds, Serena's Tune, My Brents Diamond, and Hattiesburg are expected to run. Of the other nominees, Dianehill is training in California, Dominica is likely to start in an allowance race, and Mike's Sister has raced each of the past two weekends.

"We'll just have to wait and see what happens," Mervin Muniz, the Fair Grounds director of racing, said when asked if the Pan Zareta would go with four starters.

The six-furlong Pan Zareta is compelling even with a minimal field. Hallowed Dreams, who won the race last year, makes her first start since turning in the worst race of her career, a ninth-place finish Dec. 8 in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint. Romero, her trainer and co-owner, blames himself for the loss, which came only a week after Hallowed Dreams notched her 25th career win in the Leggio Handicap here.

"I ran a tired horse last time," Romero said. "That was my fault."

In the wake of the Champions Day Sprint, Romero said Sylvester Carmouche, Hallowed Dreams's regular rider, would lose the mount on the filly because of an unspecified personal issue. Speculation has run rampant about who will replace Carmouche, but Romero said the filly's rider would be revealed only when entries were taken for the race Thursday.

As for Hallowed Dreams, she has been thriving in the two months since her last race. Romero has given her three works at his Evangeline Downs base for this start, all of them extraordinary: Five furlongs in the slop in 1:00 on Jan. 19; five furlongs in 58 seconds on Jan. 26; and four furlongs in 46 seconds on Feb. 2.

"That's just me," Romero said. "I like to let them run in the morning. She's ready to go, she's kicking down the barn."

But the race is no walkover. Serena's Tune, who will be retired for breeding this spring, put in an awesome effort winning a Dec. 20 allowance race here, running six furlongs in 1:09.55, one of the fastest times of the meet. And My Brents Diamond, beaten several times by Hallowed Dreams, turned the tables and won the Champions Day Sprint in her last start. Hattiesburg, a graded stakes winner, finished third behind Serena's Tune the last time she raced.

Devenport transfer completed

Trainers Dallas Stewart and Tom Amoss confirmed that several horses owned by Roger Devenport and previously trained by Stewart had been transferred to Amoss on Wednesday. Devenport's decision to move his horses came following the announcement that his Breeders' Cup Distaff winner, Unbridled Elaine, would be retired because of injuries to her ankles.

Unbridled Elaine had been training with Stewart at Fair Grounds for her first start of 2002, which was to have come in the Chou Croute Handicap, when an injury to her right front ankle was detected in late January.

Stewart had little specific information on either the retirement or his loss of Devenport's horses. "I just wish them well," he said.

This is the second time Devenport has pulled his horses from Stewart's care. Devenport transferred his stock, including Unbridled Elaine, to trainer Dave Vance late last spring, only to pull them from Vance and return them to Stewart in October, about a week before Unbridled Elaine won the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Jeremiah Jack getting blinkers

Amoss said Jeremiah Jack, winner of the Houston Texan Juvenile in early December and a close fourth in the Lecomte Stakes here Jan. 31, will race in blinkers for the first time when he starts Feb. 17 in the Grade 3 Risen Star Stakes.

Amoss felt that Jeremiah Jack, who was making his first start in almost two months, lost his focus while running in close quarters in the Lecomte, something Jeremiah Jack had avoided while getting clean trips in two previous wins.

"He was able to stay in his own little world in those races," Amoss said.

Jeremiah Jack wore blinkers for a half-mile work here Monday that was timed in 48.80 seconds, the second-fastest of 67 works that morning.

On Tuesday, another likely Risen Star starter, French Assault, worked seven furlongs in 1:29.60 for trainer Keith Desormeaux. Also pointing for the race are the one-two finishers in the Lecomte, Easyfromthegitgo, and Sky Terrace.

If he ships here from Gulfstream, Repent will be the Risen Star favorite.

Albarado to ride Valhol

Trainer Dallas Keen said Valhol will have a new rider, Robby Albarado, for Sunday's Whirlaway Handicap. Albarado replaces Willie Martinez, who was aboard Valhol for his win in the Tenacious Handicap as well as a third-place finish in the Louisiana Handicap, Valhol's two starts since he returned from a long layoff.

Valhol, who breezed a strong half-mile 48.80 seconds here Wednesday, has turned in five good workouts since his loss in the Dec. 29 Louisiana.

"Our goal is to win the New Orleans Handicap," Keen said.

Valhol finished third in that race last year.

The $125,000 Whirlaway is getting a West Coast shipper, Milwaukee Brew, who will be making his first start since July and first start for trainer Bobby Frankel. Also expected to run are San Pedro, Drewman, Parade Leader, Astrologist, and E Z Glory.

* Lake Lady had her first breeze since winning the Tiffany Lass Stakes, working a half-mile in 49.80 seconds on Wednesday. The Tiffany Lass place horse, Charmed Gift, worked a half-mile in 49 seconds on Tuesday. Both horses are scheduled to start in the Silverbulletday Stakes on Feb. 16.

* Celtic Hope and All Purpose, one-two in the first of three schooling races here Wednesday, both ran strongly and should perform well early in their careers. Celtic Hope is trained by Mike Doyle, All Purpose by Ronny Werner.

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